Caitlyn Dlouhy at Atheneum will publish a new chapter-book mystery series, Chicken Squad, by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Kevin Cornell. The series will launch with Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure in April 2014, and the second book will follow in fall 2014. The books star the same characters as Cronin's J.J. Tully Mysteries for middle grade readers, but geared toward a younger audience. In the first book, four chicks – Dirt, Sugar, Sweetie, and Poppy – are anything but chicken. They are the bravest detectives in town and they'll stop at nothing to solve mysteries and fight crime in the barnyard and beyond. Cronin is the author of Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type and many other picture books; Cornell is the illustrator of Mustache! and Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett, and The Trouble with Chickens by Doreen Cronin. Holly McGhee of Pippin Properties and Steven Malk at Writers House did the two-book deal for U.S., Canada and Philippines rights.
Reagan Arthur at Little, Brown has bought at auction What The Dinosaurs Did Last Night, a joint acquisition of the company's adult and children's divisions. Each division will publish a photographic book based on a series of toy dinosaur scenes created by Susan and Refe Tuma, two parents who dedicated an entire month to convincing their children that their toy dinosaurs come to life and wreak havoc while they are all asleep. The scenes they recreated turned into a popular web series and Facebook page. John Parsley will edit the project for Little, Brown and Company and Liza Baker will edit for Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Little, Brown will publish What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night in fall 2014, and LBYR will follow with a children's edition in fall 2015. Kristyn Keene and Liz Farrell at ICM Partners negotiated the deal for world and e-book rights.
Jordan Brown at Walden Pond Press has acquired three middle-grade novels from Sidekicked author John David Anderson. In The Dungeoneers, Colm Candorly is the perfect pickpocket, but when he's chosen to enter a school that trains dungeon raiders, he learns that taking treasure from monsters is the easiest part of being a Dungeoneer. It's scheduled for publication in summer 2015; Quinlan Lee at Adams Literary negotiated the six-figure deal for North American rights.
Lynne Polvino at Clarion Books has acquired Black River, a YA novel by Jeff Hirsch (The Eleventh Plague). In the story, 16-year-old Cardinal Odera is the only member of his family to escape a virus that stole the memories of everyone in his town. He chooses to remain in his quarantined town, caring for a band of orphaned kids, but when a mysterious young woman appears, and factions within the town begin to agitate for greater freedom, the safe, closed-off world he worked so hard to build begins to crumble. Publication is set for fall 2015; Sara Crowe at Harvey Klinger did the deal for world rights.
Ruta Rimas at Margaret K. McElderry Books has bought a debut picture book, Rex Finds an Egg! Egg! Egg! by Steven Weinberg, co-author with Casey Scieszka of To Timbuktu: Nine Countries, Two People, One True Story. In the story, a young dinosaur's newfound attachment to an egg takes him on an cretaceous adventure with a joyous discovery. A spring 2015 publication is planned; Marcia Wernick at Wernick & Pratt Agency brokered the deal for North American rights.
Anne Schwartz at Random House's Schwartz & Wade imprint has bought Sophie's Seeds, a companion to Pat Zietlow Miller's 2013 picture book Sophie's Squash. The new title follows the intrepid, squash-loving main character as she begins school and explores a different side of friendship. Publication is tentatively set for fall 2015; Ammi-Joan Paquette at Erin Murphy Literary Agency did the deal.
Neil Burden at Child's Play has bought Captain Mouse, Sebastian Braun's debut as an author/illustrator. The picture book stars feisty Captain Mouse, who must battle watery challenges and terrifying threats to complete an important nautical mission. Publication is scheduled for spring 2015; Kirsten Hall at the Bright Agency sold world rights.
Harvey Klinger agent Sara Crowe has closed two deals for Megan Frazer Blakemore, author of The Water Castle. Mary Kate Castellani at Walker has bought world English rights to a new middle-grade novel, tentatively titled The Allegiance, about a sixth grader who uncovers a mystery in her local library while preparing for the school spelling bee, in a two-book deal. Publication is planned for spring 2015. And Alexandra Cooper at HarperCollins has bought world English rights to a YA novel tentatively titled Bottle Cap, about 16-year-old Very Woodruff, a straight-A student in a family of free-spirited artists, who starts questioning everything in her orderly life when her grandmother, a famous writer, is on her deathbed, and Very is forced to face the truth about her family and who she wants to be, also in a two-book deal. The projected publication date is fall 2015.
Andrea Martin at HarperCollins has bought a six-book middle-grade series from D Is for Drama author Jo Whittemore. Confidentially Yours is a humorous series about a group of sixth-graders who collaborate on an advice column; publication is tentatively slated to begin in fall 2015. Jennifer Laughran at Andrea Brown Literary Agency did the six-figure deal for world rights.
Margaret Raymo at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has signed a two-book deal with Joelle Charbonneau, author of the YA trilogy The Testing. The first title in the deal, N.E.E.D., was pitched as Pretty Little Liars meets Homeland. It's set in a small Wisconsin town and follows teenager Kaylee, who gets involved in an elite social networking Web site called N.E.E.D., which that grants your desire in return for fulfilling a request. Publication is slated for fall 2016; the second book is currently untitled and scheduled for fall 2016. Stacia Decker at the Donald Maass Literary Agency did the two-book deal for world rights.
Nancy Inteli of HarperCollins has acquired the first three books in Robin Mellom's Hannah Sparkles series, about a happy little girl who helps her down-in-the-dumps neighbor find her inner sparkle. Mellom is the author of the middle-grade series The Classroom and a YA novel, Ditched; these are her debut picture books. Jill Corcoran of the Jill Corcoran Literary Agency did the deal for world rights.